The earliest inhabitants of Malcolm Island were the Kwakwaka’wakw people. At their height, they had around 28 communities, spread across what is now Northern Vancouver Island, as well as a number of surrounding islands, including Malcolm Island. But the history of the town of Sointula as we know it today started more than 120 years ago.

In 1901, a group of Finnish mine workers from Vancouver Island left in search of a better way of life. They landed on Malcolm Island and began establishing their own self-sustaining, Utopian community. They named it “Sointula,” which means “the place of chord,” in Finnish. The Utopian society lasted less than a decade. Plagued by fire and hardship, many of the immigrants moved on, or moved back to Vancouver Island. But some residents stayed. 

The influence of those early Finnish immigrants can still be seen today in the architecture of the town of Sointula, as well as in the people. Look for signs around town written in Finnish, and pop in one of the town’s bakeries to sample a real Finnish pastry. Want to learn more about the history of this unique place? The Sointula Museum is a great place to do so.

Visiting the Sointula Museum

The Sointula Museum offers a hands-on learning experience that tells the story of this unique town. Through artifacts, historic photographs, and more, you’ll learn about the history of the town of Sointula, and about the Finnish immigrants that attempted to build their own Utopian society here. Follow their difficult journey, and learn how descendants of those early settlers led to the town that we know and love today. Also at the Sointula Museum, you can check out the Sturgeon I, a historic fishing boat that’s been beautifully restored.

Planning a visit to the Sointula Museum? Keep reading to learn what you’ll need to know to plan your day. 

Where is the Sointula Museum Located?

Sointula Museum is located in the heart of downtown Sointula, just a short walk away from the ferry dock. The museum is located in the old Superior School Building, located at 280 1st Street. It is located in the same building as the local library.

Free parking is available in two parking lots on the property, including one in the front and one in the back. But you can also easily walk to the museum from town.

When is the Museum Open?

The Sointula Museum is open daily from the middle of May through September 30 each year. During this time, the museum is open 7 days a week from 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. each day.

While the Sointula Museum doesn’t hold regular daily open hours during the rest of the year, this doesn’t mean you can’t still visit. Outside of the regular season, you can call or text the museum ahead of your visit to schedule an appointment to visit it. Call or text the museum at 250-230-9650.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit?

There is no set admission price to visit the museum. However, donations are encouraged. A minimum of $5 per guest is recommended. Your donation helps to support the museum’s mission to preserve and celebrate the history of Sointula.

Does the Museum Welcome Groups or Tours?

Group visits are welcome at Sointula Museum. Groups of 5 or more guests can schedule visits outside of regular hours by calling or texting the number above. Guided  group tours are available for $6 per guest. School groups are also welcome. These tours cost $5 per child, and 2 accompanying adults are admitted for free.

Is the Museum Wheelchair or Stroller Friendly?

The Sointula Museum is accessible to wheelchairs and walkers. While strollers are allowed in the museum, some of the aisles are narrow, which can make it difficult to navigate with a stroller. A volunteer at the museum will be happy to help you find a spot to park your stroller while you enjoy the museum.

Can You Take Pictures in the Museum?

Still photography is allowed in the museum, as long as it is for private, non-commercial use only.

Visiting the Sointula Museum

Sointula, British Columbia is a unique, beautiful destination full of rich history. While you’ll no doubt want to enjoy some of the fishing or whale watching that Malcolm Island is known for, a visit to the Sointula Museum is also a must. This is a great spot to learn about the history of this incredible town and the people who built it. Make sure to set aside some time to explore this small, but informative museum. The knowledgeable volunteers who run the Sointula Museum are also available to answer your questions, and to provide some suggestions for the rest of your visit.

Ready to start planning your next visit to Sointula? Check out our planning resources to get started.